Many people are surprised when they contact another driver’s insurance company after an auto accident, their liability seems clear, your property damage and medical bills are well documented, and yet insurance won’t pay the claim.
I talked to a friend this morning who told me about an accident his daughter was in – someone backed into her car in a parking lot, the accident report showed that the other driver was at fault, the other driver admitted fault, and there were no injuries. It is a simple minor property damage claim and yet the insurance company is forcing him to file a lawsuit over a few thousand dollars…
Why won’t insurance pay even simple claims?
What do you do if insurance refuses to pay, leaving you holding the bag for medical bills or even a simple auto repair bill?
Insurance Won’t Pay My Claim – Why?
Insurance companies will usually pay the property damage claim quickly – there is often a separate adjuster for the property damage claim, and, in most cases, an accident victim can get their vehicle repaired without waiving their right to compensation for personal injury and other elements of damage caused by the wreck.
But, when you ask for compensation for your injuries, they are more likely to deny your claim, offer a settlement that is far less than what you are entitled to, or even just ignore you…
Deny, Delay, Defend
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. They are not in the business of paying claims, holding you safely in their hands, or being good neighbors – those slogans are marketing strategies designed to bring in new customers so they can make more money.
How do insurance companies make money? By taking in premiums from their customers, investing the money that they make, and denying, delaying, and defending claims wherever they can.
Insurance Companies Make Money by Denying Claims
If insurance won’t pay your claim, it’s not necessarily because your claim isn’t valid. They are denying your claim because they have decided that denying your claim will cost them less money than paying your claim. There are many reasons that insurance won’t pay your claim that could include:
- It’s a smaller claim and they don’t believe that you will file a lawsuit or that an attorney will take your case,
- You don’t have an attorney and they believe that you will either 1) not file a lawsuit or 2) will take a greatly reduced settlement offer,
- The adjuster grossly underestimated your claim or their insured’s liability and believes that you will not be successful in a lawsuit, or
- The adjuster has a good faith belief that their insured is not liable or that you are not entitled to compensation.
Insurance Companies Make Money by Delaying Claims
If an insurance company denies your claim and you do not file suit or the courts agree with their assessment, they save money. If an insurance company denies your claim but settles it later, they still save money.
Insurance companies invest the premiums paid by their customers, allowing their money to make money for them. While you are waiting for a settlement, with bill collectors blowing up your phone and doctors wanting to get paid, the insurance company is using your money to make more money for their company…
When Insurance Won’t Pay My Claim, What Should I Do?
So, what can you do when insurance refuses to pay a valid claim? First, you consult with an experienced auto accident attorney who knows how to 1) settle a claim and 2) try a case to a jury when necessary.
Why You Might Need an Auto Accident Attorney to Settle Your Claim
If you have an auto accident with property damage only, and the other driver’s insurance company offers to pay for the damage to your vehicle, you probably do not need an attorney.
On the other hand, if you have significant property damage and insurance won’t pay your claim, or if you were injured in the accident, you may need an attorney. Why? Because the insurance company thinks that you don’t know the elements of damages that you are entitled to, and they don’t believe that you will file a lawsuit and force them to pay…
Won’t I Get Less Money if I Have to Pay an Attorney?
When you retain an auto accident attorney, you will usually also have to agree to pay their attorney fees on a contingency basis (the attorney only gets paid if you recover damages). Does that mean you will get paid less?
Ordinarily, the answer is no.
After retaining an attorney, you will most likely recover more than you would have if you did not have an attorney because:
- Your attorney knows when you are entitled to pain and suffering, economic damages, and other non-economic damages including punitive damages,
- The insurance company knows that your attorney will file a lawsuit and force them to pay a valid claim, which may result in a higher verdict than they anticipated and can result in substantial attorney fees paid to their insurance defense lawyers, and
- The insurance company will often offer nothing or a greatly reduced settlement amount when you do not have an attorney.
The bottom line is the insurance company knows that they cannot push you around or take advantage of you when you have an experienced auto accident attorney handling your case.
What Can an Auto Accident Attorney do to Help Me?
Your attorney at Coastal Law will meet with you, investigate your case, ensure that you are receiving all necessary medical treatment, and ensure that we are including all available elements of damages in our demand letter or lawsuit.
In many cases, we will send a demand letter to the insurance company – before filing a lawsuit – that tells them how much they need to pay and why, with supporting documentation. When they don’t pay, we will then file a lawsuit to force them to pay – a process that may include:
- Drafting pleadings that describe your causes of action, the facts that support your causes of action, and the damages that you are entitled to,
- Engaging in discovery where we gather the documents, deposition testimony, and other evidence that we may need to prove your claims to a jury,
- Continuing negotiations with the other side throughout the process – your case could be settled at any point in your case either through direct negotiation or mediation, and
- Trying your case to a jury when the insurance company refuses to pay or refuses to pay full and fair compensation.
Auto Accident Attorneys in Myrtle Beach, SC
The Myrtle Beach personal injury lawyers at Coastal Law will help you to demand full and fair compensation to settle your auto accident claim, which includes economic damages, non-economic damages, and, in some cases, punitive damages.
Ready to speak with a personal injury attorney? Contact Coastal Law to discuss your case. Call us at 843-488-5000 for a free consultation or use our online form.